Flamenco is a style of music and dance which is native to several regions of southern Spain.
Along with its Romani origins, Spanish, Byzantine, Sephardic and Moorish elements have often been cited as influences in the development of flamenco. It has frequently been asserted that these influences coalesced near the end of the reconquista, in the 15th century. The origins of the word flamenco are unclear. It was not recorded until the late 18th century.
Flamenco is popularly depicted as being the music of Andulusian gitanos (gypsies) but historically its roots are in mainstream Andalusian society, in the latter half of the 18th century. Other regions, notably Extremadura and Murcia, have also contributed to the development of flamenco, and many flamenco artists have been born outside the gitano community. Latin American and especially Cuban influences have also contributed, as evidenced in the dances of “Ida y Vuelta”.
On November 16, 2010, UNESCO declared Flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Traditional flamenco artists never received any formal training: they learned by listening and watching relatives, friends and neighbors. Some artists are still self-taught, but nowadays, it is more usual for dancers and guitarists (and sometimes even singers) to be professionally trained. Some guitarists can even read music and study others styles like classical guitar or jazz, and many dancers take courses in contemporary dance or ballet as well as flamenco.
Flamenco occurs in three settings – the traditional juerga, in small-scale cabaret or concert venues and in the theatre.
The juerga is an informal, spontaneous gitano gathering (rather like a jazz “jam session”). This can include dancing, singing, palmas (hand clapping), or simply pounding in rhythm on an old orange crate or a table. Flamenco, in this context, is organic and dynamic: it adapts to the local talent, instrumentation, and mood of the audience. This context invites comparison with that other creation of a dispossessed class, the blues. Flamenco has been referred to as The Gypsy Blues, or even the European Blues as a means of providing a frame of reference to those new to the genre.
One tradition remains firmly in place: the cantaores(singers) are the heart and soul of the performance. A Peña Flamenca is a meeting place or grouping of Flamenco musicians or artists. There are also “tablaos”, establishments that developed during the 1960s throughout Spain replacing the “café cantante”. The tablaos may have their own company of performers for each show. Many internationally renowned artists have started their careers in “tablaos flamencos”, like the famous singer Miguel Poveda who began in El Cordobés, Barcelona.
The professional concert is more formal. A traditional singing performance has only a singer and one guitar, while a dance concert usually includes two or three guitars, one or more singers (singing in turns, as flamenco cantaors sing solo), and one or more dancers. One of the singers may play the cajon if there is no dedicated cajon player, and all performers will play palmas even if there are dedicated palmeros. The so-called Nuevo Flamenco New flamenco may include flutes or saxophones, piano or other keyboards, or even the bass guitar and the electric guitar. Camarón de la Isla was one artist who popularized this style. All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License – Wikipedia
Finally there is the theatrical presentation of flamenco, which uses flamenco technique and music but is closer in presentation to a ballet performance.
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